Passion Fuels Success: 28 Life Lessons I’ve Learned in 28 Years

If there's one thing this writer has learned about life, it's that you can overcome its obstacles and use your passions to make your greatest dreams a reality.

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It’s been quite a full year for me. I’m two years closer to being a “thirty-something,” I’ve just married the love of my life this June, I’m half-way through my college career, and I’ve officially closed the door on a decade of medical hurdles. I’ve also taught school, performed my one-woman show all over the country for three years, sold my art and displayed it in galleries across the state, and have an insatiable yearning to make my mark on the world.

It’s become more important to me as I become a wife to be an equal contributor to my household – to not give up on my dreams and to really refine my passion into a living, a career, my own personal way to change the world.

Every day is an opportunity for growth, change and discovery, and with every year of my 28 years on this earth, I’ve learned lessons about what it really takes to make a difference in the world by doing what I love.

1. Everything is connected – people, places, events. Every encounter in life is a bridge to a new opportunity; even the opportunity is in disguise.

2. Start with a single step. The tiniest micro-movement can cause ripples that extend for miles.

3. Be fearless, shameless, but courteous and civil. Boldly reach out to people who inspire you, but know that there is an appropriate time and place for everything.

4. The boat of opportunity will always come around. If you miss it this time, just keep your eyes peeled for the next time.

5. Do what you love, live it passionately and learn all that you can about it. Be an artist, a scholar and an entrepreneur at all times.

6. Creativity is more than arts and crafts. Creativity is a way to view the world differently. Use it as your ally, as your inspiration.

7. Have an idea? Odds are that someone else has thought of it before. But only you can infuse it with the passion that is uniquely yours.

8. And even if your ideas have been thought of a million times, do it first and do it better. Do it anyway and see what happens.

9. If you feel strongly enough about something, stand behind it when nobody else will. Stand behind it passionately; invest time and money intelligently.

10. Emotions are arrows which point you in the direction your heart wants to go. Conflicted on which way to take your career? Listen to what’s going on inside. Your heart will guide you if you live what you love.

11. Learn from your younger self. Would what you’re doing now make your 13-year-old self jump for joy?

12. Speak up – literally. Stand behind what you say. Nobody likes a meek, barely-audible voice or a flimsy handshake. Let people know you mean business!!!

13. Always treat others how you would like to be treated. Sometimes it will pay off, and the other times it will remind you that you are a person, not an empire. Stay humble and stay confident. This magical recipe creates a potent, enticing energy that attracts others to it.

14. Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, a pretty useful thing these days. So listen to him well when he says, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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15. Children are the best teachers of “fearlessness,” “passion” and “presence.” Learn these “crash-courses” from them any chance you can.

16. Your goal can be to make a living doing what you love, but your life shouldn’t be about making a living. Work hard and then know when to change into slippers and watch a romantic comedy.

17. Create a vision board or some kind of visual image where you can see your goals in front of you. Make a daily reminder for you to look at every morning, reminding you why you do what you do.

18. Dream big, start small. It’s great advice, but only possible with patience and persistence.

19. Think about what resilience means to you, and then find some way to embody it. Work hard to tap into your strength, but know that at the end of the day, you are human, not a robot and not a saint.

20. Don’t underestimate baby steps. Not only are they safe and smart, but they can serve as small arenas of unexpected discoveries. Don’t move so fast that you miss the opportunity to uncover your “lightbulb moments.” (Again, thanks, Mr. Edison.)

21 Anyone who wants to start their own business needs to promote it. Use networking and promotion as an opoporutity not only as a careerwoman, but to meet new people and be exposed to new ideas. Allow networking to inspire you as a whole person rather than just a business.

22. There is no secret to promotion and networking. It’s tedious, time-consuming, frustrating and sometimes a lot of work that seems pointless when you hardly hear back. But you never know if that 568th email might affect someone…

23. Do a Google search for rejection letters sent to famous musicians, businesspeople, etc. when they were first trying to make a career for themselves. It will make you feel better.

24. Don’t be lazy with your computer. Learn how to use it. Just as you would never show up in pajamas for a job interview, make sure your formatting is clean, clear and easy to read. Spreadsheets are your best friend.

25. Once you decide to do what you love, learn about it – read and research everything you can. Look up its history, find inspiring people in your field throughout history.

26. You should never be embarrassed if you fail. You should only be embarrassed if you don’t. Happiness is an attitude – it is presence, gratitude, and feeling alive. So before you decide to quit, make sure you know where your unhappiness is coming from. Have a good attitude.

27. Nourishing your body is your first and foremost job. Take good care of it – eat good food, hydrate, and most importantly, sleep. There’s not business to be had without a body to run it – and you only have one.

28. Take the time to enjoy, absorb and appreciate the effect your micro-movement has had so far – even if it’s not all you want for yourself yet. A ripple can stretch out for miles and miles and miles…

With these 28 little lessons, I’ll be venturing into uncharted territory, laughing at myself as I attempt to balance my work, my life and my creative passions. There’s a famous saying that “man plans, God laughs.” Well, I plan on laughing through my successes, laughing at my not-this-time successes, and keeping a smile in my heart, knowing that not only am I living what I love, but also I’m turning my passion into a livelihood. If there’s one giant takeaway from every year gone by, it’s the lesson that fear has taught me. Why be afraid of turning your passion into a career?

And if there’s one thing not to be afraid of, it’s getting older – who knows what the next 28 years will bring?